While Westminster negotiations make the headlines, mystery Brexit ballot boxes prompt discussion in Penarth.
Wooden suggestion boxes have been spread around key spots in Penarth, a few miles away from Cardiff Bay, proposing the locals to ‘give their vote’ on the main issue in the country, Brexit.
The key message of the project behind the mysterious ballot boxes, run by a group of anonymous people, is to provide a democratic and politically unbiased way of expression about the Brexit process.
From demanding a second referendum, to fully supporting country’s exit from the EU, answers vary and opinions are mixed.
While Brexit negotiations are still on the table and hearings in Westminster have become an everyday dead-end process, petitions and protests are growing. The Article 50 petition to stop Brexit has hit more than six million signatures and is the most popular petition that has ever been signed in the UK Parliament’s website history.
“The boxes are there and we hope they will make people think and more importantly, allow them to take part in something at a time when so many people feel powerless regardless of which way they voted,” adds the individual behind the ‘boxes accounts’ on Twitter and Instagram.
In the 2016 Brexit referendum, the Vale of Glamorgan (the constituency in which Penarth is situated) voted Remain, along with Cardiff, Ceredigion, Monmouthshire and Gwynedd. Overall, 53% of Welsh people voted Leave whereas 47% voted Remain.
This is not the first time that the ballot boxes have made an appearance. In 2016, after the Brexit referendum, six wooden boxes were placed close to key points in Penarth.
As a sort of opinion poll, the organisers wanted to give people a chance to change their minds about leaving the European Union and state their thoughts about the relationship between the EU and the UK.
Since then, the boxes have appeared in the town quite often. According to the organisers, “each box has a different tag line.”
When the boxes appeared again in January 2019, the organisers attached a see-through plastic case on the one side of each box, with a notebook inside, which looks like a dark red European passport.
‘’We started with six but are currently down to three because either the storms or angry Brexiteers broke them. The remaining boxes are at the Penarth Public library, foxy’s and at the seafront,’’ says the member of the ‘Suggestion Box’ project.
Once in a while, the boxes get opened and photos of the responses received are posted in the campaign’s accounts on social media, but the names and the identities of them have been successfully kept anonymous for three years now.
‘’How do we keep anonymous? You would be amazed at what you can do in plain sight,’’ said one of the organisers.